A wiser man than me once said, “before you even start looking to buy or build a full racecar, you should already have a truck and trailer.” I’m cheap though, like very cheap… so I didn’t like hearing that… Including a truck+trailer would basically double the budget for a racecar. I still haven’t admitted it to his face, but he was right. This post will cover two main points, WHY a truck+trailer is necessary, and how I chose my tow vehicle.
With very few exceptions no-one regularly drives a full wheel-to-wheel race car to go racing.
Some people keep plates and insurance on their race cars for various reasons; Testing, local car shows, emergencies, etc… but they do not regularly drive them to races. This is for a few reasons:
6) Bring Spares and Extras
Most racers bring a large amount of spare parts to cover items that typically break, but tires are the largest “Extra” thing most racers bring. Each race weekend I bring 1) a set of qualify/race tires, 2) an older worn out set of practice tires, and 3) a set of treaded rain tires. It is much easier to have one set on the car and two tossed on a trailer than it is to stuff multiple sets (and you, and your gear) inside a Miata. Also, if I was driving to the track I would want to roll down on a set of street tires to not heat cycle or wear out 40-100tw race tires. Unless you’re racing a minivan or pickup truck, good luck fitting all of that.
5) Not actually safe
We’ll review safety systems in future posts, but in short: Race harnesses without a helmet and HANS is a bad idea. Also, riding in any caged car without a helmet is also a bad idea. Do you want to drive the whole way to track with your helmet on?
4) Absolutely Unpleasant
Admit it, race cars are not a pleasant place to be. Rock hard suspension, no rugs (and no insulation from sound and heat), loud exhausts, no side glass, no AC, no radio, hard seats, etc etc etc.
3) Wear and Tear
Do you want to wear out expensive racecar parts on the highway? Race brakes need heat to work well. Stockish spec miata race engines last a while, but if you have a built race engine, do you want to waste any life on the highway? Better dodge them potholes! Watch your splitter on speed bumps!
2) Police Attention
Most of our race cars aren’t exactly street legal. Driving a bright, stickered up car can certainly get undesired attention. Many race cars aren’t too far from being street legal, but exhausts, seats, belts, etc can be an issue for a cop who likes writing tickets.
1) Contact and Breakdowns
HPDE is quite safe, contact with walls or other cars is very rare. Even though cars do break, it’s not super common (In 5 years of driving to HPDE’s I was never stranded at the track with a broken car). Race groups see many more incidents. While the very strict safety standards prevent injury in most incidents, there certainly are more issues with walls/other cars. Race cars are often driven harder in races than in HPDE. If you are leading halfway through a race and you hear a concerning noise, you better believe you will keep going, vs going to the pits to check in a HPDE. Towing your racecar to the track prevents you from getting stranded if something bad happens, it helps you drive at 10/10ths when you aren’t worried about breaking your ride home.
Okay, now that we’ve established that you should tow your racecar to the track… It’s time to pick out which truck is right for you…